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Trust: Experimental technologies need careful handling

Illustration of underwater operations by green energy company Seabased

An environmentalist has said a regulatory sandbox for renewable energy technology in Bermuda has great potential for the island — but the right rules and regulations must be in place.

Karen Border, executive director of the Bermuda National Trust, said that facilitating the development of renewable energy technology was a worthy goal, and Bermuda could theoretically be an excellent place to test wind and sea-based technologies.

But she raised concerns about the ability to monitor and assess the environmental impact of the technologies.

“As with medicine, the guiding principle before introducing any new energy-producing systems into our environment should be ‘first do no harm’,” she said.

“With our tiny landmass and fragile marine ecosystem, the potential environmental impact of innovative energy projects would have to be considered very carefully indeed.

“At a minimum, it must be a requirement that a truly independent environmental impact assessment be carried out before construction work begins.

“And no licence should be granted without clear provision for decommissioning and removal of failed or obsolete pilot sites.”

Ms Border added: “With the right safeguards in place there may be potential for exciting new energy possibilities for Bermuda, but a very cautious, rigorously researched approach will be needed.”

The comments come after Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, tabled the Electricity Amendment Act which is intended to create a regulatory sandbox for energy innovators.

However, he added that there would not be an “open door” for developers and proposals would be scrutinised with developers needed to meet a series of requirements before they receive the green light.

Mr Roban highlighted developers, including Belco, that are trying to set up innovative solutions for electricity generation such as floating solar photovoltaic installations, floating offshore wind, and ocean wave technologies.

He added: “Any of those innovations could be ‘game changers’ for the future of electricity generation in Bermuda if proven to be not only operationally feasible but economically viable.”

Mr Roban previously announced that the Government had signed an agreement with international energy firm Seabased, which was considering setting up a wave energy farm off the island.

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Published June 01, 2022 at 7:56 am (Updated June 01, 2022 at 7:47 am)

Trust: Experimental technologies need careful handling

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